Octopuses are pretty weird. So weird, in fact, that we know very little about their strange and solitary existences, with Quartz suggesting that "they are the closest creature to an alien here on Earth." Now, 33 scientists from respectable institutions like the University of Alberta's Department of Biochemistry and the Center for the Physics of Living Organisms at Michigan Technological University have taken it a step further — and suggested that octopuses might have actually arrived on Earth millions of years ago from outer space, The Daily Grail reports.
The researchers' claim is made in the journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, and it suggests that a "plausible explanation" for the octopus' genetic weirdness is that "squid and/or octopus eggs arrived in icy bodies several hundred million years ago."
This is quite the leap from the slightly-less-fringe theory of panspermia, which is "the idea that life has spread throughout the universe via comets, asteroids, etc.," as The Daily Grail explains — although panspermia is typically thought of as a possible method for the delivery of microbes or viruses to our planet. The researchers are actually suggesting that "cryopreserved" octopus eggs crashed into Earth several million years ago as a legitimate explanation for the creatures' extraordinary evolution.
There are plenty of skeptics, including biologist P.Z. Myers, who calls the research "garbage" and notes that while there "are novelties in cephalopod evolution," that doesn't just mean you can use it "as evidence [of] an outer space origin for the octopus." He argues that if octopuses really came from another world, "they would be completely unrelated to any other animal lineage on the planet. They would not be related to other mollusks … They would be totally alien." Read more about the debate over whether octopuses are aliens at The Daily Grail. Jeva Lange
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is blasting the White House for its decision to let Emmet Flood, President Trump's attorney working on the Russia investigation, attend two classified briefings on Thursday with Department of Justice officials.
"Emmet Flood's presence and statement at the outset of both meetings today was completely inappropriate," Schiff said. A Republican-only meeting, attended by leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), was held Thursday morning to discuss information related to an FBI informant who in 2016 talked to Trump campaign advisers linked to Russia. The White House said Flood and White House chief of staff John Kelly spoke at the beginning of the meeting to "relay the president's desire for as much openness as possible," and left before it started.
After this meeting took place, Justice Department officials briefed the bipartisan congressional leaders who make up the "Gang of Eight," including Schiff, and Flood attended that meeting, too. Schiff told reporters that "nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures or protocols." Catherine Garcia
The nation's opioid crisis isn't limited to the landbound.
Scientists near Seattle, Washington, found that some marine creatures have absorbed drugs that end up in the waters due to human drug use, KIRO News reported Thursday.
When looking for water contamination, scientists found that mussels in the Puget Sound tested positive for oxycodone and other chemicals. Sealife can get contaminated when humans ingest opioids, because people later excrete trace amounts of drugs, which end up in wastewater. The wastewater is cleaned, but not all drugs can be filtered out.
“It's telling me there's a lot of people taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound area,” one researcher told KIRO.
Researchers found that mussels in multiple locations had absorbed not only opioids, but also antibiotics and other prescription drugs. Washington officials said that the contamination shouldn't make it unsafe to eat mussels, since shellfish in restaurants are coming from different areas. Read more at KIRO News. Summer Meza
Roger Stone might be in big trouble. The former Trump adviser told the House Intelligence Committee last September that when he reached out to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 presidential campaign, he "merely wanted confirmation" that Assange had information on Hillary Clinton, but emails published by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday cast this claim into serious doubt.
The emails reveal that Stone contacted an acquaintance of Assange for "information he considered damaging" to the Democratic presidential candidate, The Wall Street Journal reports. On Sep. 8, 2016, Stone reportedly asked Randy Credico, a radio host who had interviewed Assange, to approach the WikiLeaks founder for specific emails from "State or HRC" that were dated "from August 10 to August 30 — particularly on August 20, 2011." Credico allegedly replied that "I can’t ask them favors every other day," adding that Stone should "relax." Credico maintains that he never contacted Assange or his staff, but told Stone that he had to get him to stop "bothering" him, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), said he was not aware of the email exchange, but that “If there is such a document, then it would mean that [Stone's] testimony was either deliberately incomplete or deliberately false." Stone, for his part, stated that his testimony before the committee was "complete and accurate," and that he never actually got access to any of Clinton's emails.
Trump reportedly dictated his letter to Kim Jong Un and then immediately released it without warning our allies
There's a reason President Trump's letter to North Korea's Kim Jong Un sounded suspiciously like campaign-trail Trump — the president reportedly dictated it to White House aides.
Trump released a letter Thursday announcing that he would not travel to Singapore next month for a historic summit with Kim. While it was plenty cordial, noting Kim's "effort with respect to our recent negotiations," it also struck a few distinctly Trumpian notes, boasting of the U.S. nuclear stockpile ("so massive") and blaming Kim's behavior for the cancellation ("tremendous anger").
White House sources told The Wall Street Journal that Trump dictated the letter and then ordered staffers to release it immediately, without notifying global allies. That would explain why the South Korean government appeared so blindsided by the news, with President Moon Jae-In saying he was "very perplexed" by Trump's decision. Trump didn't tell South Korea or Japan ahead of time in an attempt to avoid the news from leaking, the Journal reports. Summer Meza
Former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein will surrender to authorities and face charges of sexual abuse on Friday, NBC News reports.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are in the final stages of an investigation into allegations of sexual assault from actresses Paz de la Huerta and Lucia Evans. Weinstein has been accused of wide-ranging abuse by more than 50 women.
Weinstein has denied ever engaging in nonconsensual sex acts, but the New York Daily News reports that he will turn himself in to New York City police. The charges are expected to be brought in state court in Manhattan. A lawyer for Weinstein declined to comment. Summer Meza
Senate Majority Leader Mitch "Cocaine" McConnell (R-Ky.) "enjoyed" his re-election campaign's taunt of Senate candidate Don Blankenship after the former coal executive and ex-convict lost the West Virginia Republican primary to the state's attorney general earlier this month. Team Mitch's taunt had raised some eyebrows at the time for apparently relishing Blankenship's nickname for McConnell, "Cocaine Mitch," as well as for featuring McConnell in Pablo Escobar Narcos-inspired attire:
— Team Mitch (@Team_Mitch) May 9, 2018
President Trump announced on Thursday that he would posthumously pardon Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion.
Johnson was arrested in 1912 for driving his white girlfriend over state lines. Prosecutors said it violated the Mann Act, which prohibited crossing state borders with a woman for "immoral purposes." Johnson was convicted by an all-white jury and sentenced to a year in prison. He then fled the country for several years before eventually coming back to serve his time. The case is now often seen as emblematic of racism entrenched in the U.S. justice system.
Johnson died in 1946. His pardoning marks the third-ever posthumous pardon in U.S. history, reports USA Today. The Obama administration opted not to pardon Johnson in part because of allegations of domestic violence against women, The New York Times reports.
Other boxing champions were invited to the pardoning ceremony, the Times reports. Sylvester Stallone was also at the White House on Thursday — his conversation with Trump in April is reportedly what inspired the president to revisit Johnson's case. Summer Meza